This has been the first year that I’ve spent both Christmas and New Years away from my friends and family back home in Waterloo & Hamilton, Ontario. Both evenings and days were spent beautifully, and made me ever-grateful for the communities I have both here and in Canada. I know I write about that often, but I truly mean it and I am constantly reminded again and again.

I’ve been reading a book called “Skin Boats” by John Terpstra, a book of stories and reflections and hard questions about faith and the Church. I read this little bit yesterday, where Terpstra quotes the Canterbury Tales in relation to the people at his church…
“a company of sundry folk, by adventure having fallen together into fellowship.” I feel this way about so many wonderful ‘families’ I am a part of – my group of friends and my host family here in Bolivia, The Freeway which is my church community at home, all of the girls and tias at CDP. It’s like, how did we all find ourselves in the same place, supporting each other and sharing our lives together, amidst the joys and the struggles?
New Years Day for me was a restful one, after having a wonderful pyjama party with the girls at CDP and staying up past midnight watching the city fireworks from the third floor balcony. On New Years Day, I was able to spend a lot of time skyping with some very important people in my life – my closest friends, my family. I found myself missing them a lot. But I was also very sad in a different way. I get reflective (even more than usual) on New Years Day and I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that I will be leaving Bolivia in just a few weeks. I’m the type of person that likes to fully experience a place, I immerse myself and develop tight relationships which makes it way harder to leave. But I wouldn’t change that for anything – I think it would be worse to remain detached, to make it ‘easier’ to reintegrate back into North American society. I am surrounded by so much love here, and I’ve opened my heart to these kids, to my family, to my friends, and I am going to be a mess when I leave. But I also have much to look forward to back in Hamilton, and when I am able to return to Bolivia ­čÖé Which must happen. These people, this place, have come into my path and I can’t just go another direction or walk right by.
Here is another quote that encouraged me over the weekend: “in a world of fading traditions and disappearing places the practise of personal fidelity (ie friendship) could provide the soil in which the search for truth could flourish.” I really like this. I need friends, I need people to share my heart with, to have fun with, to ponder tough questions with. We are all pretty weak, so we need to find strength in each other. I need people, and I need the girls and CDP the kids at PDC as much as they “need” me. Their hugs and kisses are so affirming it’s pretty incredible.
So let’s see what happens my last 3 weeks in Cochabamba. I’m not going to count down the days or lament or numb myself to leaving. I’m going to be HERE until the moment the plane leaves the ground, and even then my heart will still be here. I have to figure out how to live with my heart in two places, but life is a process and I am looking forward to it.
May you be at peace with each other in 2010.
– J